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I learned, in grade school, that lift was generated via the particles on either side of the wing having to reach the other end at the same time. Looking back, that indeed has no physicality to it. So what is the real explanation of how lift is generated? I've found references to Navier Stokes, but I don't know what that is. What is the best way to learn, from the ground up, why some curved object would generate a definite change in pressure? I can see the results, and I know that there is a pressure difference, but why is that pressure difference, and the two different velocities generated?

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marked as duplicate by Mark Eichenlaub, Waffle's Crazy Peanut, Chris White, Emilio Pisanty, Michael Brown May 31 '13 at 9:15

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A great answer is at and on this site there are many related questions:… and… –  Brandon Enright May 10 '13 at 20:33
Brandon's right. IMHO, that av8n link is the best, most accessible, explanation I've seen. It all has to do with the fact that air cannot reverse direction at the trailing edge of the wing. This results in an overall rotary circulation, which is at the heart of the explanation of lift. –  Mike Dunlavey May 10 '13 at 20:59
It's all about circulation: how airplanes fly, the real story:… –  Johannes May 11 '13 at 13:32

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From what I've read, the force on a wing is calculated by integrating the sheer stress and pressure distribution around the surface of the wing. The net force is broken down into two components: the component perpendicular to the relative wind is called Lift, and the component parallel to the relative wind is called Drag.

EDIT: This is the book you want:

You can find an old edition here:

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